How Peer Pressure Operates
Peer pressure is the power or influence a social group exerts on an individual or individuals. It may be found in children that are toddlers (that is age 2-3). Children of this age can mimic adults or if asked to do so take part in their actions. This type of influence can eventually affect the behaviour of such children in future. Again with the common practice of pre-schooling in most Nigerian homes and families today, children between 3 and 4 years would sometimes not do what parents have taught them to do but would instead do things to please their friends just because they like them. Due to their exposure to schooling so early, they become aware of manners of doing things and rules that are different from those of their parents or families. Then they may actually begin to demand to do some of the things parents had not allowed them to do. They may begin to cut boundaries or limits parents had set for them (Lapiere, 1954, Akers and Lee 1996). Their peer group becomes more important to them as models. Peer pressure becomes a disturbing and worrisome social problem as growing children take on their peer group as their role models. This is because they begin to act and develop the copycat syndrome (what Igbinovia 2003, identified as one of the causes of crime in Nigeria). As a result of this syndrome, a child would desire the same kind of toys, wear the same kind of clothes, eat the same kind of food, share e ating habits, share favourite television programmes share likes and dislikes, and even share bed times with peers. At this point, the
parents start having difficulties exercising social control on the child because the values and opinions of their peers (age or friendship cliques) as far as he/she is concerned supersedes those of the parents. Also because they want to look and act like the others. Imitation and experimentation have been identified as ways by which teens and adolescents learn anti-social and criminal behaviour (Powel, Tauras and Ross, 2003, Ogbebor, 2012). As children grow into teens, the symptoms of peer pressure becomes more problematic especially, where parental bonding is emotionally or otherwise lacking, or weak. Moreso, when there are difficulties and challenges at home and teenagers desire to fit with their peers and be accepted by them.
Depending on the strength of this desire, „teenagers‟ right thinking may be beclouded or dislodged‟ (Ahigren, Noren, Hochauser and Garvin, 1982). In view of these traits, a teenager who is a part of a group that is involved in cultism, thieving, stealing, lying, drugs, examination malpractice or any of the vice of society, is most likely to participate in them. According to Horton and Hunt, 1984, all authorities agree that an individual’s need for acceptance within intimate groups is a most powerful lever for the use of group pressure towards group norms”. Lapiere, 1954 and Powel, Tauras and Ross, 2003, agree that peer pressure may begin in early childhood, and increase until it reaches its peak in the pre-teen and teen years.
They see social control as a primary process growing from the individual’s need for group acceptance and argue that virtually all adolescents in middle and high school deal with peer pressure often on a daily basis. Lapiere points out that in this way, children and teens learn how to get along with others of their own age group and in the process they learn to become more independent adults. Also, Schachter, 1951 had experimentally demonstrated how members who sharply deviate from group norms in opinion are rejected by the group. In addition, an experiment by Ditties and Kelly, 1955 reveal that those who conform most rigidly to group norms are those persons who feel least accepted in a group. The concepts of acceptance and rejection therefore become the most important and relevant in explaining and understanding how peer pressure operates and lead to criminal behaviour. While rigid conformity becomes a tool for gaining acceptance and status within the group, rejection becomes the cost of non-conformity to its norms and values. Those who violate and reject group norms are ridiculed, mocked or ostracized from the group. Such sanctions which can also include mayhem or assaults (especially in the case of drug use and university cult groups) may be institutionalized. Krauth, 2005 and Clark and Locheac, 2005 observed that the consumption of tobacco, alcohol and marijuana are correlates of lagged peer behaviour.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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